California: Up-and-coming Milos Raonic reached the first ATP Tour semi-final of his career on Friday, booking a clash with second-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils at the 600,000-dollar SAP Open.
Canada's Raonic defeated young Lithuanian Richard Berankis 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) while Monfils defeated US wild card Tim Smyczek 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) in the quarter-finals.
Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion and former world number four whose ranking tumbled as a wrist injury limited him to four tournaments in 2010, defeated seventh-seeded Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-3.
Del Potro next plays the winner of Friday night's match between defending champion and top seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain and fifth-seeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Raonic fired six aces in each set and feneded off the only break point he faced in the match.
He notched the lone break of the contest in the third game of the opening set and produced two aces in the tiebreaker to seal his spot in the final four.
"It feels good but there's another match tomorrow," Raonic said. "I have to prepare for it the same way I prepared for today. At the end of the week I'll look back and have my reflection on it."
Raonic made it through qualifying and then reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in January, falling to eventual semi-finalist David Ferrer of Spain.
Ranked 152nd in the world at the end of 2010, he has climbed to 84th entering this week and is expected to climb about another 10 places when the new rankings are released next week.
On Saturday he'll face the world number 12 in Monfils.
Monfils survived a brace of set points in the second-set tiebreaker to emerge with a victory in another match that included just one break of serve.
"He played great today," Monfils said of Smyczek, who was playing his first ATP quarter-final. "He was strong at the baseline and moved very fast. I was a bit surprised."